Life imitated art last night, as Disney announced it would have to restate its fiscal 2002 earnings after realizing its latest animated flick is worth far less than its weight in fool's gold.
At first glance, the move might seem confusing. Disney's year closed out in October, and the film was released a week ago. But like many of the mutinous characters in the animated feature, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island epic, Disney got greedy when it came to the film's carrying value. After scoring a modest hit over the summer with Lilo & Stitch, the company figured its feature animation footing was back on track.
Big mistake, Mickey. The company is taking a $47 million, or $0.02 a share, after-tax hit in its restated fourth quarter after writing the film down to more realistic levels. It's also trimming a penny a share off its current quarter projections to compensate for the movie's lackluster debut.
What was Disney thinking? It has flooded the market with cheaply made sequels, which has tarnished the brand. It decided to wedge the movie's release between proven franchises in AOL Time Warner's
Treasure Planet may be too formulaic, with yet another predictable adaptation of a classic story, complete with levity-toting sidekicks and appropriate radio-friendly pop hits shoehorned for good measure. But it could have been worse. Then again, it could have been better, and the timing was downright poor. Like Treasure Planet's B.E.N., a robot stripped of his memory, Disney has forgotten a lot of its past. In short, you can't cheat quality.
Disney also reported that the SEC is looking into some of the salaried relationships between the company and family members of its own board. Figures. Instead of calling all hands on deck to steer the entertainment giant through these troubled waters, it is busy counting the loot it never really had. You want Treasure? Plan it!